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Missouri Gov. Nixon vetoes voter-ID bill

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday vetoed legislation that would have required voters to show photo identification at the polls and allowed some ballots to be cast before Election Day.

In his formal veto message, Nixon said the bill would disenfranchise voters who don’t have access to a photo ID or the documents necessary to obtain one, such as a birth certificate. Specifically, he said access to the ballot box could be limited for seniors and the disabled.

“Disenfranchising certain classes of persons is not acceptable,” he wrote in the veto message. Requiring voters to show a photo ID has been a bitter partisan issue in Missouri and across the country for years. Republicans say the measure is necessary to prevent voter fraud, but Democrats contend it addresses a nonexistent problem while, as Nixon suggested, blocking access to the ballot.

Republicans called Nixon’s veto disappointing.

“The legislation would’ve brought greater integrity and helped keep fraud out of our election process,” said Senate Leader Rob Mayer, a Dexter Republican.

More than 30 states introduced voter-ID legislation in 2011 alone, according to the Advancement Project, a coalition of groups that oppose the requirements. Nixon joins Democratic governors in Montana and Minnesota in vetoing such legislation this year.

“The governor’s action today sends the message that no Missouri voter should be relegated to second-class citizenship solely because they do not have or cannot get a state ID,” said Denise Lieberman, an attorney and advocate for the Advancement Project.

Kansas voters must present identification when they cast ballots starting in 2012 under a bill passed earlier this year by the Legislature. The bill also requires proof of citizenship to register to vote starting in 2013.

In supporting Nixon’s move, state Sen. Jolie Justus, a Kansas City Democrat, said the state should err on the side of protecting eligible voters’ ability to cast ballots.

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